Revolution Church | Tucson, AZ
- Josh Reich
- Feb 25, 2011
- Series: Church Profiles
- Categories: Church Planting Articles, Latest News
Briefly describe your story of your call to plant a church
I knew at 19 that God was calling me to be a pastor, went to bible college and went on staff at the church I grew up in. It wasn't until I was 21 and I interned at Willow Creek that I knew God was calling me to plant a church. I still remember sitting in the audience at a talk that Bill Hybels was giving on evangelism and being completely broken by what he was saying and the passion with which he said it. I knew sitting there that I didn't want to play church, I didn't want to do church. It became clear that summer that the best way for me to do that was through church planting.
How did you build up your core? What advice would you give to guys in the core-stage?
Our journey is unique in that we moved to Tucson to lead an established church. When we got there, we found a 7 year old church plant that was struggling financially, had weak leadership and no vision. It had a mountain of debt, they bought a building for $150K but owed $425K because the previous pastor had refinanced it to pay staff and other things.
After about a year and seeing that we were going nowhere fast, and running out of money doing it, we entered into a season of prayer as leaders and as a church. At the end of that season, I began preaching through the book of Acts and began to cast a vision of what a church on mission looked like. We took a huge risk and made the choice to close the church down, sell the building and assets and start over. After listening to stories of parachute planters, I don't know which was is harder, but if you are thinking of replanting it takes a certain calling and personality to do it.
At this point, we had roughly 100 adults who were all excited about the change and journey that lied ahead. When the dust settled and we launched Revolution Church just 7 months after this time, we had less than 20.
In terms of building a core, have a clearly articulated vision and strategy. While everyone likes the vision: changing the city, being gospel centered, community, missional (and whatever other buzz words you use), it is the playing out of this vision in your strategy that will often cause the fights in leadership.
One of our founding core members who is still with us said to me in the midst of some tough times of losing much of our core: "You are the leader, so lead."
What were the biggest challenges you faced in planting your church (and/or currently facing)?
After reading the last question, you might wonder if we still exist. We do and God has moved in some powerful ways and is blessing Revolution.
Our church is growing and we are looking into going into multiple services, hoping to plant a site or a church in the next 2 years which means that we need to double all of our leaders. Our prayer and challenge right now is developing leaders, doing that well so that we will be good stewards of the resources (people and finances) that God has given us.
How did you become involved with Acts 29? What have been the biggest benefits of being in the network?
I had known about Acts 29 through blogs and podcasts but after Revolution got off the ground we wanted to be connected to a network. I began getting to know many of the A29 pastors in Phoenix, building relationships and saw that the vision of Acts 29 was where we wanted to be.
The biggest benefit has been the relationships. Church planting and leadership is hard and often lonely. To have guys you can call and seek advice, text a prayer request to and know they will listen and pray for you is amazing and incredibly helpful.
What advice do you have for men who are wrestling with the decision to plant?
A few things: are you called? No matter how talented you are, no matter how much experience you have, no matter how cool you think your new church will be, this question must be clear. When it is lonely, hard, people criticizing you, your wife crying, burn out right around the corner (and this might all happen before you launch), you will come back to the question of "am I called to this?" At our last preview service, we had 11 adults which included me and the guy leading worship. I stayed up all night that night wrestling with this question. Your calling will be what sustains you and pushes you through some low times.
Is your wife called? If she has hesitations, work through them. If she thinks planting a church will destroy your marriage, listen. You are now one, which means you must both feel this calling all the way down to your toes. The reason is that the journey ahead will more than likely be harder for her than you. You will have safety in books, other planters, blogs, preaching, the excitement of vision. She will hear the criticizes, feel the loneliness differently, carry the burden of your home, her heart and not have the outlets you have. If she doesn't feel this calling as you do, that doesn't mean you shouldn't plant but it is definitely a sign to slow down. If you are both called, God will make it clear.
And lastly, be clear. I have in my office the line, "You are the leader, so lead." God has called you, you are accountable for this church and your leadership. What is said, the vision, the clarity. The weight of this should push you to your knees everyday. When it goes well, people will look to you. When it goes poorly, people will look to you. They will long for clarity, clarity that only you as the leader can give. So be clear. Pick a side of the fence. For us, we have not chosen many hills we will die on, but the hills we have chosen to die on, we will die on those hills and so far, we have gotten to die on all of those hills. So pick well, and be clear.
How do you pastor your family?
Katie and I have never been great at reading devotionals together. Reading questions someone else has written has usually felt weird to me. Katie and I read through the same bible reading plan so we are reading the same thing, which gives us a great way to talk. We also will share what books we are reading and talk about those things on our date night.
I have a love and passion for music and being outdoors, so we will often go hike with our kids, listen to worship music, talk about nature and who created things as a way of informally pastoring our kids.
Formally, we work to read through the Jesus storybook bible with our kids on a daily basis. Some weeks go better than others, but with 3 kids under 5, this has been the best thing formally so far.
Outside of the Bible, what is the most helpful book you have read for church planting?
Church Profile: Revolution Church
Launch Date: September 2008
Location: Tucson, AZ
Mission, Vision, Values of Church
Our mission is "to help people find their way back to God."
What are some examples of God's grace that you have seen in your life and/or the life of your church?
We are merging with another church, technically, they are joining us. It has been amazing to see the humility among leaders to stay on mission and push towards a goal of changing a city.
Since July, our church has gone from 110 to 250. It is humbling, exciting and sometimes overwhelming.
How can we pray for you?
The merge, that it goes well. That our growth and momentum continues and we steward that well.
November 14, 2013
Event: 2013 Raleigh Boot Camp
Author: Ray Ortlund, Jr.